June 12, 2015
By Jorie L. Stroup, Patent & Trademark Attorney, Roberts Mlotkowski Safran & Cole, PC
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently released a free Patent Application Alert Service. The system is easy to use and provides customized email alerts when a patent application of interest is published by the USPTO. U.S. Patent Applications are generally published 18 months after the earliest filing date for which a benefit is sought.
Once you have notice of a published application, you may consider filing an anonymous submission of relevant prior art (prior patents or other publications), or third party submission, with the USPTO. A third party submission is due six months after the date on which the application is first published by the USPTO, or before a first rejection of any claim in the application by a USPTO examiner.
If you or your attorney are signed up with the USPTO’s e-Office action program, you should receive an alert if a third party submission is filed in your application. It is not necessarily a bad thing to have relevant prior art cited to the Examiner during the prosecution of your application. After all, most applicants want a patent that can withstand the scrutiny of an invalidity attack. However, under certain circumstances, an applicant may consider filing a non-publication request with the filing of an application. Ask your patent attorney or agent for help in devising the best business strategy.